JOHANNESBURG, South Africa’s main opposition party, the Deocratic Alliance (DA), has launched a campaign to rally the people to sign a petition seeking early elections before they are due in 2019.The DA says it believes the ruling African National Cong…

World Bank: Tackle Middle East Water Scarcity to Save Money, Boost Stability


YAOUNDE, CAMEROON � The Middle East and North Africa region loses about $21 billion each year because of an inadequate supply of water and sanitation, the World Bank said Tuesday, warning that urgent action is needed to prevent ripple effects on stability and growth.

Poor management of water resources and sanitation in the world’s most water-scarce region costs about 1 percent of its annual gross domestic product, with conflict-hit states losing as much as 2 to 4 percent each year, the bank said in a report issued at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

Deaths due to unsafe water and sanitation in some parts of the region, particularly countries affected by conflict, are higher than the global average, it added.

“As the current conflict and migration crisis unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa shows, failure to address water challenges can have severe impacts on people’s well-being and political stability,” the report said.

Peril in Yemen

In Yemen, which is reeling from more than two years of conflict, water supply networks serving its largest cities are at risk of collapse due to war-inflicted damage and disrepair, and about 15 million people have been cut off from regular access to water and sanitation, the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF) said in a separate statement Tuesday.

In Syria, where the conflict is well into its seventh year, water has frequently been used as “a weapon of war,” with pumps deliberately destroyed and water sources contaminated, and about 15 million people are in need of safe water, including an estimated 6.4 million children, UNICEF said.

Overall, 183 million people lack access to basic drinking water in countries affected by conflict, violence and instability around the world, it added.

Better management

With the urban population in the Middle East and North Africa expected to double by 2050 to nearly 400 million, a combination of policy, technology and water management tools should be used to improve the water situation, the World Bank report said.

“Water productivity � in other words, how much return you get for every drop of water used � in the Middle East in general is the lowest on average in the world,” said Anders JA�gerskog, a specialist in water resources management at the World Bank and one of the report’s authors.

Middle Eastern and North African countries are using far more water than can be replenished, said the report.

To reverse the trend, technology and innovation are “essential but not enough,” JA�gerskog told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Water governance � in particular, water tariffs and subsidies � must also be addressed, he said.

The region has the world’s lowest water tariffs and spends the highest proportion of GDP on public water subsidies. Such policies lead to excessive use of already scarce water supplies and are not sustainable, said JA�gerskog.

Untreated wastewater

Another challenge is that more than half of the wastewater collected in the region is fed back into the environment untreated.

“Along with better water management, there is room for increasing the supply through nonconventional methods such as desalination and recycling,” Guangzhe Chen, senior director of the World Bank’s global water practice, said in a statement.

Improved water management could bring considerable financial returns, the report noted.

Governments could gain $10 billion annually by improving the storage and delivery of irrigation water to users, while increasing agricultural production by up to 8 percent, the report said.

Egypt, Syria and Iran � which have the largest proportion of irrigated land in the region � are the countries that could benefit most.

Source: Voice of America

Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson announces winners of the 6th Greenest Municipality Awards in Bloemfontein


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Trade and Industry to launch R50m black industrialists firm


Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Bulelani Mangwanishe will this week launch a R50 million Black Industrialists firm in Gauteng.

Maneli Pets food was approved for grant funding of R12.5 million from the Department of Trade and Industry’s Black Industrialist Scheme (BIS).

The Deputy Minister will address the launch on Friday.

The company, which is located in Edenvale, obtained funding of R26.6 million from the Industrial Development Corporation, and the owners have made an equity contribution of R8 million to the project.

Maneli Pets is a new company that started operating in June 2017. The company is a specialist manufacturer of premium quality foods and treats for the global pet market.

The company has so far created 42 job opportunities since commencing production with the intention of creating 80 direct jobs during the next five years.

The dti has approved funding for 25 Black Industrialists projects in Gauteng, projecting to inject R2.2 billion in the province’s economy with over 2600 direct jobs to be created. These investments cut across the productive sectors of the economy, such as metals and pharmaceuticals, said Deputy Minister Magwanishe.

The company aims to become one of the best pet food makers globally. It is a niche manufacturer in the agro-processing value chain, targeting production of premium quality foods and treats for the global pet market. The company manufactures high protein pet foods, with raw materials sourced locally from Limpopo, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.

The BIS is an incentive of the Black Industrialists Programme that aims to unlock the potential within black industrialists operating in South African economy through deliberate, targeted and well-defined financial and non-financial interventions. �

Source: South Africa Government News Agency